Friday, June 26, 2009


For anyone who doesn't know, The Edinburgh Hotel at Mitcham IS Adelaide's best pub.

Located in Adelaide's ultra-chic, beautiful south-eastern foothills, The Ed is home to unquestionably Adelaide's biggest and best beer garden. And I don't mean one of those new-age 'beer gardens' devoid of any grass or anything resembling a garden, The Ed's actually is a garden, beset with plants, trees, grass and gorgeous vines sprawling all over the place. It really represents its place of origin through unbridled environmental qualities, you know exactly where you are , and you know you want to be there.

The food there is outstanding. With a seasonal menu which changes regularly, it's clearly to closest you'll come to a fine dining experience at an Adelaide pub. Kangaroo fillets with maple syrup roasted bacon and fetta/zucchini muffins, beef cheek and shitake pie with porcini glaze, wagyu steak fillet served Australian style, Greek barbecue for two with marinated whole quail, lamb and potatoes; and the classic Ed Mexican style schnitzel are just some of the mouth watering temptations offered by the Ed's magnificent menu. The all day menu is brilliant too, with chorizo skewers and trio of dips both favourites of mine.

The Ed's clientele covers most age groups, from trendy young teens/20-somethings to older, sophisticated attendees who often enjoy bringing their children along for a run around in the garden on a sunday. Generally the customers of the Ed are fairly high brow, but there's nothing wrong with that, everyone's there for a good, relaxing time, and it's better than low brow, isn't it?

What's all this got to do with wine I hear you ask? Well, for the true wine lover the Ed has you covered. Its wine list always has something interesting, from established names like Penfolds and Henschke to more boutique producers like Teusner and Ashton Hills, as well as everything in between. They happily cover all wine styles and price points, with some very generous selections by the glass. The bottles list is exceptional (thanks due to the adjoining bottle shop), covering everything from the latest releases to extensive back vintages, including numerous vintages of Grange and even Chris Ringland's iconic Three Rivers Shiraz.

The adjoining bottle shop, Edinburgh Cellars, is one of Adelaide's top three liquor outlets, providing the engine room for the pub's superb wine list. Completely and proudly independent, its wines are extensive, encompassing many high quality, boutique Australian wines from producers who don't sell through the big stores. Imported wines, top shelf spirits and unique beers from emerging Australian micro breweries are also prevalent at Edinburgh Cellars. They also house their own underground wine cellar, where you can find rare, ultra premium and hard to find wines (the back vintages have a substantial mark up compared to auction houses, but so do all retail stores who stock them).

To top it off the Ed organises Adelaide's biggest and best, annual public wine tasting event; The Edinburgh Great Shiraz Challenge. This year's event takes place this sunday, June the 28th, with the promise of over 300 wines for tasting.

Underneath a great marquee, it attracts the some of the country's best makers of shiraz, encompassing wines common, rare, cheap and expensive, including many icons of Australian wine. All wines on the day are sold at one-off, once a year special prices. If you do like a bottle or two, I'd recommend buying it on the day.

Tasters are encouraged to analyse and even vote on wines at the end of the day. Last year's winner was the 2006 Clarendon Hills Liandra, where one of Roman Bratasiuk's relatives was kept extremely busy pouring and answering questions about his company's prestigious products.

I'd hate to sound judgmental but there are two gripes I have with the Great Shiraz Challenge.

One is temperature. As the event is basically held outdoors under a marquee in the middle of winter, most exhibitors experience significant troubles keeping their wines at a reasonably warm drinking temperature, especially come 2pm (it runs from 11am-4pm). I'd highly recommend arriving early to avoid this issue.

My other concern, and this is common throughout tastings in this state, is how lopsided the wine list is towards South Australian producers. My estimates suggest that of 300+ wines last year about 90% were South Australian shiraz. As a lover of the shiraz of the Yarra Valley, Grampians, Pyrenees, Bendigo, Sunbury, Nagambie Lakes, Heathcote, Great Southern, Hilltops, Canberra, Lower Hunter Valley and numerous other regions, it disappoints me to see how misrepresented non-South Australian districts are. But like i mentioned, this is very common in South Australia, especially when it comes to our beloved shiraz.

Regardless of these minor gripes the bottom line here is that The Edinburgh Hotel at Mitcham is undoubtedly Adelaide's best pub. If you get the chance one afternoon you must visit, you won't regret it!

A report on the Edinburgh Great Shiraz Challenge will be posted early next week.

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